Gareth Southgate revealed his preliminary roster ahead of England’s Euro 2020 campaign, calling out some surprising names.
Brighton defender Ben White, Everton stalwart Ben Godfrey and the two goalkeepers, Sam Johnstone and Aaron Ramsdale, were all named in the group and will hope to impress Southgate before dropping his numbers.
Here, Sportsmail took a closer look at each of the players competing for their very first senior Three Lions caps …
Gareth Southgate named a number of new boys in his preliminary English selection for the euro
Last summer, Ben White representatives held talks with England boss Gareth Southgate.
Chelsea, Liverpool and Leeds were all snooping and White wanted to know if staying with Brighton would hurt his chances of ever playing for England.
Southgate was clear: staying put wouldn’t stop him, he just had to play.
Ben White has not played for England at any level but will now try to take his chance
A year later, both parties have stuck to their side of the bargain.
The 23-year-old has entered 36 Premier League appearances this season – more than anyone on Graham Potter’s side. White has never represented England at any level, but now comes the chance to prove that he belongs in their shortened Euro 2020 roster.
It caps an astonishing rise that has seen him climb from League Two to England in four seasons.
Southgate and his scouts have seen Brighton enough in recent months to know that White’s fellow countrymen Adam Webster and Lewis Dunk were both impressive too. But neither offers its versatility.
White usually played to the right of a back three, but Potter has also used him as a right back, in the heart of a back four, and in defensive midfield.
White has caught the eye of a number of major clubs and his versatility has impressed Southgate
With Southgate concerned with the fitness of players like Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips, White was able to help close gaps across the field. He even occasionally filled in for midfielder Phillips while on loan with Leeds in 2019/20.
White’s ability to play so many different roles at such a young age is testament to his tactical and positional intelligence.
It also reflects his prowess and confidence in the ball. During this first top campaign with Brighton, where he got through the academy, the defender has shown that he is comfortable driving away from the defense, or looking to attack with his impressive range of passes.
No wonder he attracted attention at Liverpool and beyond. No wonder Southgate wanted to make sure that wherever he ended up, White’s talent wasn’t allowed to rot on the couch.
It was in the midst of a gloomy midwinter that Gareth Southgate set out for Goodison Park on what turned out to be a worthwhile reconnaissance expedition.
Everton v Leicester, on January 27, had several potential candidates for England. James Justin was smart to the visitors, as were Harvey Barnes and James Maddison. Jordan Pickford put up with a moment to forget, conceded a stupid goal, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin ran relentlessly in the rain.
But it was the home side’s right back that gave Southgate the most to think about. Ben Godfrey was unyielding in his struggle with Barnes and made a big impression.
Two weeks later, when Everton faced Tottenham in the FA Cup on another freezing night, the England head coach was back.
Southgate saw Ben Godfrey in action many times this season and named him in the squad
From then until the end of the season, Southgate has often made the two-hour journey from his home in North Yorkshire to see Godfrey. He was there for matches against Aston Villa, Tottenham and Wolves. The miles he traveled for a reason.
Godfrey, 23, has had an excellent first season for Everton and was named the club’s young player of the year. It cost over £ 30m when Norwich sold him and he got a baptism of fire when thrown into the heat of a Merseyside derby on October 17, but that experience made him feel.
He played in both full back positions, was part of a three-man defense and was an Orthodox center-back in a two. He’s got on with his business with the minimum of fuss – despite the ordeal of uprooting his life in the midst of a pandemic – and delights Carlo Ancelotti.
Three Lions boss Southgate toyed with the idea of calling Godfrey up for World Cup qualifiers
“Seeing and watching Ben Godfrey during this time is a manager’s pleasure,” Ancelotti said recently.
Southgate toyed with the idea of picking him out for the World Cup qualifiers in March, but it was thought that he would be put to better use at the Under 21 tournament in Slovenia.
However, it was only a matter of time before he got a call for the seniors. This selection could be the start of a long journey.
West Bromwich Albion may not play in the Premier League next season, but their goalkeeper Sam Johnstone certainly will be.
Johnstone cemented his reputation with a series of excellent displays that, while unable to keep the Baggies above the waterline, would get him a move, with West Ham taking great interest and Tottenham also keeping an eye on the situation. The Hammers see him as a potential long-term successor to Lukasz Fabianski.
Johnstone has arguably performed better in the top flight than in the championship, where he helped West Brom with promotion, but was not a protagonist.
West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is sure to return to the Premier League after his starring role
With much more work to do in the Premier League, he stepped up the task and immediately gained the confidence of Sam Allardyce after replacing the fired Slaven Bilic in December.
Johnstone’s performance will give him relatively confidence to beat Aaron Ramsdale for the last goalkeeper spot in Southgate’s roster.
After impressing at Bournemouth in 2019/20, Ramsdale moved to Sheffield United for £ 18m, but suffered a second consecutive relegation and was unable to brighten up a grim season at Bramall Lane that started terribly and never really improved. He now hopes to end it on a high note.